Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members and car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
“There’s more FedEx jackets and hats and shirts in the stands. Believe it or not, we can see that. We see it under caution. You spend a lot of time at this racetrack under caution. So the racetrack, the stands are so close to the actual speedway itself, you can look up there and see the guys rooting you on. Somehow, it just gives you more motivation, for whatever reason, or determination.
“It’s definitely more gratifying when you’re able to do that because you know, my fans in particular, they could pick anybody, and probably guys that are more successful, to win more races: but they have my stuff on because they believe in me. When we’re able to win, it makes me happy that they’re happy.” – Denny Hamlin on winning at his home track
“We have to delay it until Wednesday (March 31) now. I was actually going to try to do it after the race, but now we have victory lane celebrations, so I can’t do it. It’s a good thing for us. We’re going to wait until Wednesday and trust me, when I come back, I’m going to come back stronger.” – Denny Hamlin on his injured knee
“Coming down to the end, leading the race here at Martinsville, the last place you want to be when the caution comes out with ten [laps] to go is the leader because everyone is going to take cuts at you. You wonder if you have enough time to get back. You were thinking about that situation 30 laps prior, watching the weather also. But it came right at the point where it’s probably the most difficult call on pit road, leading the race inside 10 to go. We had 65 laps on our tires; new tires were going to be fast, but you don’t know what everyone else is going to do.” – Mike Ford, winning crew chief
“For Mike (Ford, No. 11 crew chief) and Denny [Hamlin], I told Mike for the record, I never doubted him. But in reality, I was cussing him up top the pit box (laughs). It was one of those things where they trust each other. Mike and Denny, it is what it is, they make their decisions.” – JD Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, on coming to pit road at lap 494
“I was just right place, right time. I was able to restart on the bottom. That’s where you need to be. Just kept filling holes when people were washing up and hitting each other. I was lucky enough not to get hit in the back, just protect the bottom, was able to come out with a good finish.” – Joey Logano, finished second
“Well, the real unfortunate part was that yellow came out with about 100 feet to go to get the white. We had the thing wrapped up. We had a tough day. We were so awesome at the beginning. That outside lane was just so terrible on the restarts. I’d lose five or six spots. You know, I really give this team a lot of credit for sticking with it and fighting back and having great pit stops.
“On that last one, I didn’t get a great start, but it was a pretty decent start. I saw the No. 17 (Matt Kenseth) was way behind me. I drove into [turn] 1, trying to not overcook it and he drove into the back of me hard. I don’t know what happened, if the No. 11 (Hamlin) got in the back of him or if he just drove into the back of me, but I made sure he wasn’t going to win the race after that.” – Jeff Gordon, finished third
“You just didn’t know what to expect with the double-file restarts. I’ve got to thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. They did a great job with this racecar. I wish we could have qualified on Friday, because I think it might would have changed our tempo for the entire day. Working our way up to the front there was a lot of fun. I just had an unlucky spot on that last restart.” – Ryan Newman, finished fourth
“That was exactly what we needed as a team to get our momentum back. Ryan [Pemberton] made a great call at the end for four tires with three laps to go. It was a gamble that paid off for us.” – Brian Vickers, finished sixth
“We were trying some stuff through the company, especially on the No. 48 car today. We thought we would get it sorted out in practice and just came up a little short. Didn’t get enough time with our new ideas. Good race experience with it today, and we know what we were trying here today will help us at other tracks down the road. In some respects, you wish you could just come back with the same stuff all the time and have it work, but this garage area doesn’t sit still. With the fast start we have had, we wanted to be smart and try some things out. Ninth today was about it for us.” – Jimmie Johnson, finished ninth
“We got knocked around out there some, which caused us to get spun around and in the end resulted in us getting pinned a lap down. We were fortunate to be able to get back on the lead lap and leave here today with the car in one piece.” – Marcos Ambrose, finished 11th
“Not many drivers finish in the top 10 in their first race here and we were in position to do that until the last caution. Now that I have a start under my belt, we should be even better when we come back in the fall.” – Brad Keselowski, finished 12th
“I don’t know what it was, the flu or something. I’ve had it once before, but we ran at Talladega the next day. We got to ride quite a bit in that 500-mile race, but 500 laps here, it was a tough day.” – Sam Hornish Jr., finished 13th, suffered flu-like symptoms during the race
“It was a dumb move on my part. I should have just finished third and collected some points and got one of our best finishes at Martinsville, but I figured I’d go for the win, which, I guess in hindsight, was probably a mistake.” – Matt Kenseth, finished 18th
“We ran around for about 10 laps, and we knew the tire was going down. Nothing we could do about it. Just a bad break. Ran well, put ourselves in position to win the race, and had something happen that we couldn’t control. I’m not going to lose sleep over that. Nothing wrong with the car… we just ran over something.” – Jeff Burton, finished 20th
“Man, I just can’t seem to ever catch a break here at this old place. We led early and then the handling started going away… just a typical Martinsville race for us.” – Kurt Busch, finished 23rd
“We were about 50 laps in and I was already having issues with our brakes. We had to pump the pedal a lot, and then when they all stacked up in front of us in [turns] 3 and 4, we were on the brakes and the car just wasn’t slowing down. The car drove fine. It was pretty good, but we had some brake issues and that escalated, and then we broke a gear, so it stinks for the team because they’re trying to stay in the Top 35.” – David Stremme, finished 37th
“When you’re at Martinsville, the double-file restarts aren’t the most fun thing to have, especially when you’re starting mid-pack all day, because you’re bound to get wrecked. It was really nobody’s fault, because everybody is fighting for the same space, but I got hit in the back and shoved into all the cars. That just tore the nose off of it. All of the oil lines were pinched, and when we tried to go back out there we blew up.” – AJ Allmendinger, finished 38th
WODY’s Ed Lane also contributed to this report.
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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